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tv   Charlie Rose  PBS  May 10, 2014 12:00am-1:01am PDT

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>> charlie: welcome to the program. "a raisin in the sun," lorraine hansberry's great play, is now on broadway, and we have some of the cast, including denzel washington, sophie okonedo, anika noni rose, and latanya richardson jackson. >> just the humanness of it all, the fact that each person, every character in it is multi-facetted. you don't lead one person. you don't go, this is the moral center. you go, oh, this person thinks, and then they go another way, and another character takes over. so like the ensemble -- >> charlie --he wants to do this family. he says later on, hell, yes, i would like a yacht some day, but turns around later on and says,
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yes, i'd like to get pearls for my wife. he wanted to be the man of the family and pick up the mantle where his father left off and take it to the next level because every day he sees these other families doing it. he sees the arnold family. he sees it. >> but, you know, as a woman, too, there's a joy of watching latanya being latanya and having people know her as latanya richardson for what she's bringing, not for the person who's on her arm, but as the joy of a woman, to see a mature woman stand on that stage, blow it away, it's undeniable. there's no -- she doesn't have to look ten years old, she doesn't have to be nipped and tucked and pulled and twisted because she's on the stage fully embodying who she is, and going further,t, latanya is beautiful and takes mama somewhere i think is unrecognizable. >> charlie: "a raisin in the sun," next.
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captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york
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city, this is charlie rose. >> charlie: lorraine hansberry's "a raisin in the sun," made history when it debuted more than 50 years ago, the first play by an african-american woman to be viewed on broadway, a story of the hopes of a young family as they navigated life in south chicago, anticipated the civil rights struggle and a picture of the lives of black manners far more complicated than on stage. denzel washington starring as walter lee younger, sophie okonedo as ruth, latanya richardson jackson who plays lena younger, the family matriarch. i am pleased to have them at this table to talk about a remarkable play and what it means then when she wrote it and what it means today.
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welcome. >> thank you. >> charlie: tell me what brought you back to this play at this time. >> kenny leon the director and i had great success four years ago and the day we closed, he said, what are we doing? i said, i'm going home, i'm going on vacation. >> and you got the tony. the man gets the award... (laughter) two years later we started talking and talked about a lot of other plays. we didn't talk about this play at all. he didn't want to do it because he had just done it. he said, no, that's been ten years. i didn't realize it was that long, so we actually talked about ice man comet, king headily, and then he brought it up and here we are. >> charlie: because he had done it.
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>> yes. >> charlie: and he asked you to do it. >> i said, no. my daughter was at her senior year at vassar and there was a lot going on. i felt i had given up a lot to get her to this point, so i wasn't going to drop the ball. so whether she needed me or not, i was going to be available, and the time slot was during the senior activities, the spring and leading into graduation, so -- and my husband was doing the commencement speech. there was a lot going on, so i said, i can't. i've got to be there and not be, you know, worried about does she need me, am i thinking the right part in the play, it was too much. it was going to be too much to handle for us. >> charlie: and when don carroll said i can't handle this, as much as i like the role and would like to do it, i can't. >> is that what she said? >> charlie: that's what i read. but didn't take kenny long to call you either. >> well, because of him, and
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they both decided to tall. i'm here because of both of them, especially him. >> charlie: you accepted it because of him or -- >> i accepted it because the time was right and it was like the greatest gift i could be given right now in my life and i still feel that way. >> charlie: why is that? when an actor starts to really perform, to not just say you're an actor, there are certain parts that you feel that you might want to do one day and even though i didn't really have it on my plate, it was on my plate. i was told i needed to write it on the resume of my soul, so it was written somewhere in my soul to do it. i think everything was aligned right, that god was putting me in a position of such favor that i had to accept it. i mean, i was shopping. what else was i doing? (laughter) >> when you got the call, right?
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oh, lord... it was the greatest gift i could have possibly given, especially given this cast. >> charlie: is this mama or walter's play? >> well, as he likes to say, it's lorraine hansberry's play (laughter) >> i have been asked that a lot, and, you know, for me, you know, i guess i could have picked something where everybody had smaller roles. but who cares. it's lorraine hansberry's play. there are at least four -- how many of us, seven? they're all good parts. when i look at it, when i watch everybody bow, i'm, like, wow, these are all wonderful roles. >> absolutely. the movie would have made a little bit more (laughter)
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i didn't do this because to have the moving man. >> charlie: where were you when you got the call? in london? >> yes, i was coming to new york for a weekend about a year ago, and my agent had read you were doing the play and said, oh, what about you in the play? and i hadn't read the play. >> charlie: you had snnt. no, it was on my radar but it's not part of our upbringing in britain. i probably look back and say it was probably the equivalent. i couldn't buy it on kindle in england. i could get a hard-back copy in the shops but not on the kindle version in the british stores. so i read it and i thought, oh, my god, this is fantastic. then, at the same time, i'd been
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seen in a show in london the year before and said, oh, gosh, yes, you would be great! >> charlie: what did you like about it? >> i think -- well, to me, it's the obvious thing to say, but just the humanness of it all. the fact that each person, every character in it is multi-facetted. you don't lead with one person. you don't go, this is the moral center. you go, oh, this person thinks -- and think they go another way and the other character takes over. i liked the ensemble ch chorus. i see it as a masterpiece. it's an extraordinary piece of work. the masterpiece comes through doing the play. there's no bottom to it. i keep discovering more things
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because it's so well written. the human qualities and just i felt like it could really speak for today. like what we talked about before, i thought it was very relevant, not just for african-americans but for the whole underclass that's going around the whole world, you know, that there are some people that really can't even begin to dream, can't even begin -- >> charlie: the word that keeps coming up about this play is "dreams." >> yes. >> charlie: where were you when kenny said -- >> i was in l.a., and i got the call. and i was, like, denzel, they just did that. i didn't realize how long it had been. ultimately i said okay because kenny asked me to do it and we had just worked together on a tv movie, and i was ready to get back on stage. i missed being on stage. and i looked at the ensemble and i said, you know, this is going to be a group of people who are
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really going to be on stage, bringing something specific and strong, and professional and years of experience, and we are either going to have a good time or kill each other. every now and then, we're like -- (laughter) >> charlie: theater is what you dream about. >> that's what i did. i didn't dream about it. i just started doing it. i never thought about being an actor. i did a little skit in the summer and somebody said, you know, you're very good at this. so i transferred in the university and the first role i got was a leading role. >> charlie: but there's a story you went to the theater and slipped in and watched james earl, jr. >> yeah, yeah, yeah -- he was doing the king at st. john the divine, and i just wandered into the dressing room. i don't know why he let me hang
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around, but he was talking to people. i was playing with the props and he just kind of let me hang around. i probably told him i was a young actor. >> charlie: tell us walter's story and the transformation he goes through. >> the great thing kenny's done is, before the play starts, is an interview with lorraine, and it's a great thing. >> charlie: it's about theater. >> it's interesting with how with my routine, almost every night, i hear her say, walter lee, he never gives up. and i'm, like, oh, i'm ready! so it became -- and whatsoevery was saying, the thing about a great play, and latanya gets on me sometimes and says, we only got 48 left, and she's like, shut up! but we only have 48
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opportunities. the thing about a great play is you keep finding and keep finding. like the other day or a week or so ago, i said, okay, i've got to find the love again. everything has to do with how much i love each person. not, oh, i'm supposed to be angry here. i love my mother. and certain things happened that night and shows sense out of love for her. how can you do this to me because i love you so much. i say, do you know what this money means for me and what this money can do for us. i don't know if i've answered your question. >> charlie: no. i'll repeat it (laughter) who is walter younger. >> he doesn't give up. he's a little off. one of the things he says is, i see these white boys sitting in there, turning deals worth millions, but he sees them in the restaurant turning deals, he doesn't see them in the office doing the grunt work, and he thinks, oh, you know, they just
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sit around and talk and turn deals. so he's sitting with his boys and talking and he's going to turn a deal, but he's dealing with a snake. he got outside of his own, but because he works for this rich man, he sees a part of the world probably nobody else in his family -- well, the mother and the wife might see it cleaning their houses. you see it -- >> i get to hang out with george. >> that's on another level. george is forward movement. right. he is somebody whose father is success in the town, when you talk about, like lorraine said, except lorraine's father also seemed to be connected to the ground, he was very grounded, but george's family is above the fray and they assimilated. >> charlie: why does she hate that so much? >> she's revolution nature! doesn't want to give up who she is to go farther.
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she wants to be able to go farther, grab that dream and own all of who she is while she's doing it. that's a big deal, even today, to be able to do that. >> to validate who you are without having part of someone else's culture. >> charlie: what's ruth want? she wants love! (laughter) she wants the american dream! (laughter) >> charlie: like everybody here. >> yeah. >> charlie: that's what she wants? >> she wants to have -- you know, she loves walter, she loves the family, and to get out of this hell hole they live in. the idea they can move to a house they own is just her greatest wish, to have a bit of a space, a bit of a garden, a man that loves her -- >> charlie: the american dream. >> yes, she wants that.
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>. and, obviously, it means something different to everybody. >> well, mom is just happy to survive and survive sufficiently, she thinks. she's never been to jail, she's had a roof over his head. they never starved. there always was food on the table. so i think, in that regard, lena feels successful. she feels like, you know, i kept my family in tact. i had a husband, they had a father. we went to church, we did everything right. this is the most i dare to hope for because how far am i from slavery? i'm this far from it and i know it's enough just to be alive and to keep all of you alive and functioning. i'm not dreaming with her. i would love to have a garden because we had one down home. there were certain things you could do in the south that didn't translate into the north as well, and that was one. you lived with the land, and there was a certain freedom. i'm southern, i'm from atlanta,
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so i know what that freedom is to be able to run in a field and to have the land anchor you instead of concrete buildings, you know, which sort of define you. >> i can think about all of the people that came up in the migration. i think they were land people and suddenly became city people. that's what i was thinking about when i was researching the play a lot, about the difference between your generation and our generation and travis' generation. >> i have this great map i found online about the migration, and most of the african-americans from chicago, in chicago came up the mississippi river. they stopped in st. louis. the louisiana-texas people went to california. louisiana went to oklahoma. that's the first time i had real gumbo was in st. louis. >> charlie: so people from chicago came primarily from -- >> the line was up the
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ain't now! creaking back in on something this hard. >> it ain't now! but, you know, as a woman, there's a joy of watching latanya be latanya and having people know her as
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latanya richardson for what she's bringing, not for who's on her arm. but also there's a joy to see a mature woman stand on that stage and blow it away. it's undeniable. she doesn't have to look ten years old. she doesn't have to be nipped and tucked and pulled and twisted because she is on the stage fully embodying who she is and going further because latanya is beautiful and she takes mama to a place where i think it's unrecognizable. it is thrilling as a woman to see someone at this place in their life embody that and blow it out and have people scream her name because it's important and it's something that hollywood often denies us and pretends doesn't exist. >> these are my children. >> charlie: i want you to watch this. >> am i in it? >> charlie: no. i want him to be the first one to hear it. come here, travis. (laughter)
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travis, you know that money we got in the mail this morning? >> yes. do you know what your grand-momma don did with that m? >> i don't know. she went and bought you the house. i'm glad about the house. it's gonna be yours when you get to be a man. >> i always wanted to live in a house (crashing sound) >> give me some sugar, then. and when you say your prayers tonight you thank god and your grandfather, because he's the one who give it to you, in his way. >> well... (laughter) >> charlie: well... nice to be back. >> it's so wonderful, i cannot tell you. so, yes, there's hope at the end
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of the play for me, but there's a line that lindner says, i hope you understand -- you people understand what you're getting yourselves into, and that's not lost on me. >> charlie: it's interesting with the difference now -- >> it's interesting with the difference in 2014, not so much for beneatha because she takes up one, it's almost like i've got to be the dumb guy in the lindner scene. as soon as he says you people -- the audience is, like, mmmmm... and the audience is ahead of it. or somewhere where i say, just write the check, sometimes they're like, yeah, take the money. >> i thought about that in this world and the relevance of now. she's not wrong. you're talking about leveraging a deal that would not only get the money back that you lost but would also garner us more funds on top of it. but at what cost?
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>> right. today it wouldn't matter because that's what corporations do all the time and they say well, that's the cost. morals be damned. there's no moral issue here, we're talking about finance. >> when i was in the room and beneatha and the guy were out there, i'm asking for $20,000. i'm going to get $20,000. so talking about performance, it's changed. now i come out with the attitude, hey, yeah, he's here, good. we'll make this deal. then mom says, well, make it in front of your boy. then is when it's like -- it's not like i'm afraid to make this deal in front of -- but mom says, make it in front of him. oh, you want to sammy? sammy in front of him. go ahead, son. so him -- >> show him what right and wrong is. >> show him how willie harris
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taught you. >> show him what five generations have come to. >> have come to. ! >> charlie: is american theater different than british theater? >> yes. >> charlie: american audiences are different? >> yes. i'll have a little fun here because it's much quieter. the british are much quieter. so you don't really get the same reaction. you do in some cities, depending on what city you're playing at, butmost of the time the audiences are very quiet, and here it's much more lively and you feel what the audience is feeling. i love it. i'm having the best time because i feel electric. i don't know if it's like this in every show, but when we start the show, every single show, it's electric. also, you get the luxury of a lot of previews, which is -- i'm used to about four previews and
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then you're off. >> charlie: because of kenny or scott -- >> no, you just do more. in the old days, you hit the road. >> it's wonderful, because by the time you come to open, you're really ready to open. i think the west end in london, they get little previews, but mostly what's in the international theaters. that's been my experience. so you get a few days and then you're on. >> charlie: how did you get a chicago -- south chicago accent? >> i worked with a dialect coach. >> charlie: do you have to work really hard? >> there's no magic bullet. i work really hard. then it comes. i'm not a mimic. i have to get right inside the character. >> charlie: you went and talked to sidney? >> yeah. >> charlie: what was the conversation? >> i got him on film. i taped him.
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he is just a gentle man, so giving. the first thing out of his mouth is support. he says, oh, i could never be as good as you, denzel. i'm, like, right, get out of here. he met my son. he just started lifting him up right away. he's just the best -- he's just the best. so, you know, i didn't go over there necessarily to get that, because i had never seen the movie from start to finish. >> charlie: did you want to? i have now, but i hadn't before. i had seen scenes from it. i just liked going over and hanging out and talking. i mean, all of this -- i met him when i was young, and he gave me some good advice earlier in my career. >> charlie: which was? he said -- there was a movie i was going to do that -- i wasn't going to do it.
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i just hated it, they were going to give me a lot of money. he didn't tell me what to do, but he told me, the first three or four films you do will determine how you're perceived in this business and i turned it down. and i turned down a lot of money but it was making me sick to think about doing it. but what i really like about that story is he didn't tell me what to do. he said, i can tell you that what you choose to do or choose not to do will determine how you perceive -- >> charlie: when you look back, that's right? >> it changed everything. >> charlie: because you work with good actors and directors. >> i turned that down and four months later i got "cry freedom" which is the first time i was nominated for an oscar. if i hadn't done that, i wouldn't have done "cry freedom" and who knows what would have happened. >> charlie: how is it for you to be in this ensemble? >> i love it. >> charlie: is it
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intimidating, though? >> no, and i'm not -- (talking at the same time) >> i have my own statue at home, but i'm not someone who functions from the land of intimidation. >> charlie: you didn't seem to be that kind. >> it's not hard to believe (laughter) i don't think it's healthy, and i think that sometimes you can't help it if somebody blows you away, that's what it is. but sometimes you know something just really moves you or whatever. but i think that we're all here with whatever our experience and training is, and we're all here to be on the same playing field and play our part in what this game is, and i love these players. i love to come to work and mess with them and have a good time and to know that when i'm on that stage, if it ever feels a little wonky, and everybody has
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a wonky day, that i have eight, ten pairs of eyes i can look to to ground and keep the story going. that's most important thing about what we do, you know you have a safety net on that stage, and i think we are very, very lucky. >> we're a group of working actors, and there's no egos, and everybody's just -- we're a family. >> we're a family. yeah, we're a family. i don't feel any outsiders in this group. >> charlie: when the medical school money is gone, you say "they took my future." will you recapture your future? >> i think that beneatha will recapture her future. >> charlie: she has the same kind of passion you expressed here. >> she has what my grandfather used to call "gumption." >> charlie: there's a play that says "you need some
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gumption, boy." >> that was my papa. it was her plan to go to school. >> charlie: nobody was going to stop her just because they took her opportunity for time being. >> no. she was actually broken in that moment, but her fire and spirit is so strong. look where she came from. this woman came from the south and made a life with her h.u.d. out of nowhere, knowing no one. she can't help but be that person, and she is the voice of lorraine hansberry, as we talk about in the play, who wrote a play at 28 years old -- >> charlie: huh-oh. -- that we're still -- (laughter) >> go ahead, you tell it. we were talking about it earlier, and denzel said, how old was she? >> charlie: i'll explain it. i said to denzel -- he asked a
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question about lorraine, how old was she? >> but i was going to take credit for that, but not today. >> charlie: not today (laughter) >> you know, it's lorraine! it's lorraine! this woman, this young woman who somehow out of chicago knew the world! this is who beneatha is representing. >> charlie: but some say beneatha is only one side of her that in this play you see two sides of her. >> i think she's in many. >> charlie: you ask how can someone so young be so profoundly about life and the american experience, but the larger experience. as you said, it was true about italian and irish immigrants. they came here. >> lorraine said i'm going to be a doctorrenned everybody better get used to that. lorraine also says, i'll put the
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baby on my back and clean floors, if i have to. >> charlie: tall characters come out of their own mind. >> it's all part of it. i feel like her voice is in all of us. >> charlie: so let's talk about this idea which we also talked about before when we sat down, is this just uniquely about the african-american family in south chicago or throughout this country? and with all the heritage of racism and all of that, or is it simply with a much broader sense, as someone said, at the deepest level, it is not a specific situation for the human condition and human relationships and per assistants of dreams and bonds between men and women, it is at a deeper level, it is more about the african-american experience, it's about every human experience where you feel the dreams have been taken from you, you feel like there are
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impediments, you feel like there are things you based your life on may be part myth. >> well, it's part of her genius that she created something that is specifically african-american and, yet, at the same time, completely universal. when i look out into those audiences and the lights come on up at the end, i am shocked sometimes by how few black people are in the audience. >> charlie: they're so intent. the way they're responding. it's a whole amen corner. we aren't there sometimes, and that means -- and people are, like, on their feet and feeling things, not because it was their experience as brown-skinned people in america or black people in america, but because it touched their hearts and the humanity of whatever their situation was and that is the genius of who she is.
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she wrote something distinctly ours. >> charlie: it's based upon the poem about dreams. "a dream deferred." the core of this is why did walter go to the point where he made the decision he did? what changed walter in this play? >> all the things we have been talking about, the desire to do good for his family, to go further than his father, he turns the corner when he's talking to his son, his love for his son. he goes from, son, i want to talk to you tonight to how we're going to end up -- he talks about everything -- i don't know if he mentions beneatha, but he talks about getting the house with the wife and the car and the boy going to college, he wants to do this for his family. you know, he says later on, hell, yes, i'd like me a yacht some day, but he turns right around and says, i'd like to get pearls for my wife.
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he wanted to be the man of the family and take care -- he wanted to pick up the mantel where his father left off. he wanted to take it to the next level because every day he sees these families doing it, he sees the arnold family. he sees it every day and wants that, but he wants it for them. like i said, he says to his mother -- when he says, do you know what this money means to me, i don't think he means what i can buy, because the next line is do you know what this money can do for us, and i think that's what it is for him. that's the mantra i got in my head when i'm in the bed when the play starts. i'm in there going, i'm going to get my sister this, because -- >> charlie: because you want to -- >> yeah, i want to pay for my sister's school. i want to pay for everything. i want to pay for that, i want to get the wife the pearls, get the house, i want to do all of that. to me, the line that hurts my heart -- well, i won't say it. >> charlie: why not?
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well, because i wouldn't want to hear it -- well, mom says, it makes a difference to a man -- what did she say? >> when he can walk on floors that belong to him. >> it crush mess because they don't belong to me. they belong to her. yes, it does make a difference in a man, because i'm a man, denzel, and it does make a difference in a man when he can walk on floors that belong to him. the floors she's talking about don't belong to him, they belong to her and to my father, they don't belong to him. when i bought my first house and i would come home from making a movie, i would walk around the yard for half an hour, and i would look around, and they didn't even know i was home because man's home is his castle. and i'm, like, this is what i'm busting my behind for. i would sit and eat a piece of fruit, look at the pool, go in the garage and look at the cars. you know, it's important to a man. so it is -- it does make a
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difference to a man when he can walk on floors that belong to him, but the floors she's talking about don't belong to him. he wants floors that -- he wants to be that guy. if you've got an ego, it's about wanting to do everything, be the man of the house. like she says, be the man like your father. i'm trying, mom. give me this money and i'll do it! >> charlie: but you said about your husband, a fine husband, a fine man, could never catch one his dreams. >> just couldn't. he couldn't. he had dreams for them, you know. that was his dream. how can i make my children successful? always wanted them to have something that he could give them so that they could be something. it's that part of it that obviously was our conversation that they weren't necessarily privy to all the time that i think, in other cultures, especially in the dominant culture, that they probably do sit down because it's obvious to
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me that that's why everybody feels so privileged is because they're told at an early age and we get to tell our children they get to be anything they want to be and i don't know we necessarily believe that. we just tell them because we've got to give them some kind of hope they can be something, you know what i mean? and i mean in the african-american experience, and especially during the '50s. we have to remember, this was 1959, so this was a time fraught with riots and fear. so a lot of it was, for me, for lena, i'm just happy to be alive and healthy and in school and, you know, that he hadn't been to jail, that he's drinking and that's bothering me a lot, but i get it, but i don't have a conversation, i don't have an intellectual dialogue to give him to make it better. we don't have that conversation. >> charlie: well, any of this the reasons you want to make sure that your daughter had all
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that she could achieve? >> she was our experiment. she was our experiment. i told her, let me explain something to you, your dad and i decided what happens, how are we sure that, in addition to the environment -- the internal environment of a family is the nucleus of what makes a good person and propels them into the world to really be something, because we see some of those people in our day that came from great families (laughter) what is it we can do to always try in our family to be truthful and honest and try to say education is the way you're going to get ahead and we're going to make sure you can get the best one you have. no worries. you won't have to worry about where the money is coming from. and from the time she started school, we did that. whatever money i had was always to make sure she was in private
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schools, that she was learning something. it brought more challenges as well, but to this day, i have to say, kind of, you know, you lose a little sometimes in your culture when you do that because you tend to see the institutions and what they are and who's around them and who's in them, which leaves her berefe bereft r own kind a lot. >> we were talking about this the other day, there is a lot more tenderness mama has for walter and travis than beneatha. beneatha gets tough love. >> charlie: because she -- because she's going to be in charge. so it's that interesting thing where people think beneatha is spoiled and, materially, yes, she has fabulous clothes. i think they made those clothes. she's going to school.
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the money is put aside for her. she's able to horseback ride and -- >> they took them to the cleaners! (laughter) >> but the tenderness go to the boy and travis and we start to watch the cycle begin and hope that travis is break out of that. he's a boy. he's not going to do housekeeping. >> artis wilson handled these decade, but she's covered almost in slavery to a woman becoming a doctor, in one play, almost in one scene, you know. i mean, that's how -- >> charlie: did you relate to this the same way they related to it, everybody else here, because of your own different experience? >> i relate to everything in the play. all the hopes and fears of ruth younger, i knew i could play the
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part since i read it, that's within me. >> charlie: is it an actress or within your body of experience? >> that's kind of -- they're both -- they mix and match. but i had to do some work around the great migration. >> charlie: yeah. i played other parts and over the years i've amassed some information, but the biggest gap for me is to get some of the historical stuff that you know and grew up with and the reference to your family are a given and i had to research that. >> charlie: there is also this -- i'm looking at the four of you. this is a play and it ought to be said and you could never say it enough that ranks with the great american plays, whether you're talking about "death of a
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salesman," you talk about "tennessee williams," "arthur miller," you're talking about a play that ranks with the finest plays the american theater has produced. >> right. >> charlie: as i said, all the references to dreams. but i'm looking at four people who i've got to imagine their dreams continue but have been fulfilled to a large degree! i'm looking at dreams not deferred but discovered and engaged and found. >> we won. i totally have fulfilled mine. totally. >> you know, because i've had so much success, one could argue that i could fool everybody, but
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not the guy in the mirror. >> charlie: yeah. and i'm at a point in life where i'm more goal-oriented than ever, but it doesn't have anything to do with my profession. >> charlie: it has to do withiswithwho you are. >> me being the best me bringing 100% of what i do. who did i help today and lift up today? i spoke to some kids last night at the august wilson thing and showing what i know and lifting others up. that's more -- i love that. that's what i'm working on. as it relates to my profession, then i'm only interested in doing exactly what i want to do. >> charlie: you take pride in terms of where you -- for lack of a better word, where you are. when we talked about who'd won how many tonies and oscars -- >> well, you asked me the
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question. >> charlie: there's pride in your answer. >> there's truth in the answer. >> charlie: yes, but everybody has their -- >> like lorraine hansberry, everybody has their dose they're given or life. this is what it is for me. these are facts and it doesn't make me -- what i'm learning and know, it doesn't make me any better than anyone else. it won't keep m me on this earth one day longer. you will never see a u hall behind a hearse. the egyptians tried it. it's what you do with what you have. >> charlie: that's what it's about for you that stagestag str life. >> yes (laughter) >> everybody has something. >> charlie: but in the "new
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york times" it was said, what people have to forget about at some point is the resume and think about the eulogy. what is it you have contributed and made a difference in, in terms of the human values. >> my late friend butch lewis, god rest his soul, always talked about the dash. there's a dash between your birth date and your death date. he said, i'm working on my dash. that's what i look at. what are you doing? you know, i don't need to be known for winning awards. who did i help? you know, who did i help lift up? you know, those are the things that are as important. our children, you know, when people say to me -- someone said it to me and i love it, your children are gentle people, and
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that's success. that's the reward. >> charlie: i'm honored to be among you. thank you for coming. >> thank you for having us. >> charlie: i should say that -- how many performances? when the play first opened -- >> do you know who had the first dressing room? (talking at the same time) (laughter) >> claudia was down there? i met sidney's first wife. ruby would know. >> charlie: once again, before i say goodbye, it was a pleasure to have you. "a raisin in the sun" at the barrymore theater through june 15. no way we could keep you from the theater after this conversation. thank you for joining us, good
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